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17 April 2009 @ 06:43 pm
Fic: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 15), GL, Olivia/Natalia  
Title: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 15)
Author: DiNovia
Fandom: Guiding Light
Pairing: Olivia/Natalia
Rating:  Chapter=PG-13/Overall=NC-17
Archival:  P&P, Kimly, and AUSXIP of course.  Everyone else, please ask.
Spoilers:  None
Summary:  Phillip Spaulding has returned to Springfield with a vengeance.  Olivia Spencer, afraid that Phillip will take their daughter Emma from her again, flees Springfield with the help of her assistant, Natalia Rivera.  Can they stay one step ahead of Phillip?  Will they ever be safe again?
Content Disclaimer:  This is an AU story--based on a drabble I posted in February--that splits off from the "I can trust you with my life!" scene on 2/16/09.  All canon after that does not exist in this story.  Also, the Phillip Spaulding that returns in this story is still bat-shit crazy and evil. Graphic depictions of love between two consenting adult women are contained within, obviously, but not for a while.  
Source Disclaimer:  I do not own Guiding Light or the characters therein depicted.  I do not seek to profit from this story. 
A/N:  I tried to remain as close to character as humanly possible but as I have only seen YouTube clips of Otalia and no full episodes, I cannot guarantee the results.
Style Note:  As some of you have noticed, I am switching POVs for every chapter.  Natalia, Olivia and Emma will tell their stories in their own words, first-person present tense.  Any other exposition needed will happen in third-person past-tense.  This will cover the urgency I need and will also allow for omniscience for exposition with multiple characters.  I am very interested in knowing whether this style works how I have intended it, so let me know.
Thank You:  To mightbefound and bldy_destini for beta-ing this story.  Thank you also to Tiff for helping me to figure out the major plot problems I'd been having and for being on call when I forget them and need to review.  ;)  Thank you to djshiva for your comments and general enthusiasm for this story. 
Additional Note:  I wrote the majority of this chapter on 4/12 and 4/13, well before Olivia's line in the show on 4/14 that is gonna make me look either a) psychic or b) like I lifted it right out of the episode. 



QUALITY INN -- GRAND JUNCTION, CO
OLIVIA SPENCER
 
I'm.  In.  Hell.
 
I thought it was bad, spending eleven hours in the car with your scent, my relentless longing, and my colossally evil mood.  I thought it was bad, spending eleven hours realizing how close I had come to losing you.  If you had woken up, found me wrapped around you-- 

I can't think about that.

No, I thought it was bad when I turned on the light in our hotel room and went around the dividing wall between the sitting area and the sleeping area--only to discover a single king-sized bed perched in the center of the space like a giant spider.
 
You nervously told me, in hushed tones, that this was the only room the hotel had left and...something about the snow.  I admit I wasn't paying too much attention. 
 
Because--and I think I've covered this--I was in Hell.
 
But this....  This is so much worse.
 
You're in your dark green flannel pajamas and the fuzzy purple socks again and I'm in my very respectable raspberry flannels.  We're sitting up against the headboard with Emma and a giant bowl of popcorn snuggled between us.  And we're watching Mary Poppins.
 
No, no, wait.  It gets worse. 
 
We're watching Mary Poppins and you know all the words to the songs and...you have a beautiful voice.  Something I don't think I knew about you.  I mean why wouldn't you, what with all the singing you must do in church, but it's...just....  Wow.
 
Wait.  There's more.
 
We're watching Mary Poppins and you know all the words to the songs and you have a beautiful voice and you're cuddled up along my side with your head resting on my shoulder.
 
Yeah, kill me now.  No, really.  Do it now because you're gonna do it anyway, by accident, in just a few seconds when we get to that part in the song--
 
Goddammit.
 
You can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards.
 
How many times have you seen this movie anyway??
 
I sigh heavily and you look up at me with those big, brown eyes and you're so close....  If I had the slightest bit of spine I could just lean a little forward and--
 
"What?"
 
You said something but I don't know what it was.  I was too busy kissing you in my head.
 
"I asked you if you were feeling okay," you repeat in a half whisper.  Emma is giggling at the penguins as they dance with Bert.  "You look a little...flushed."
 
Flushed? I think, incredulous.  That's not the word I would have used.  But then exactly what single word describes the state of being I'm currently in, hmm?  That being 'totally in love with my best friend (who doesn't know it and wouldn't want to) while sharing a king-sized bed with her and my kid while also on the run from my crazy ex-husband who may or may not want to repeat his award-winning performance as a kidnapper.'
 
Oh, I know.  SupercalifragilisticexpialiFUCKED
 
Say that backwards, little miss perfect!
 
"I'm fine.  It's just a little....  Do you feel warm?  I'm warm."
 
You get this worried look on your face that makes the spot between your eyes crinkle up and then you cup my face in your cool hands, peering at me closely. 
 
"You don't feel like you have a fever," you whisper, your fingertips fluttering around my eyes and along my forehead.  "Do you have any other symptoms?  Headache?  Sore throat?  Tummy ache?"
 
"'Tummy ache?'" I hiss, my voice acidic.  "What am I--four?" 
 
Your face crumples, hurt, and your hands drop away from their concerned task.  Damn.  That came out...all wrong.
 
I grab one of your hands in mine, entwining our fingers without even thinking about it.
 
"I'm sorry," I say softly.  "I'm sorry.  That was....  God, it seems all I do is apologize to you lately."
 
You squeeze my hand.  "It's okay.  This...this is all so--"
 
"Crazy?"  I smirk.  "Like me....  Yeah, I get it--"
 
"No!  No, that's not what I said."  You cup my face in your free hand and I lean into it before I can stop myself, closing my eyes.  "You're not crazy, Olivia," you continue quietly, your voice earnest with conviction.  "You're...you're wonderful."
 
My eyes pop open and I'm staring into a sun-washed autumn field for three precious seconds until you blink and the sun goes out. 
 
I shiver.
 
"Are you cold now?  Okay, Olivia, you're officially scaring me!"
 
I shake my head.  "No, no.  I'm fine.  It was a just a--"  It was just a dream dying.  "--a chill or something.  I'm fi--"
 
Emma whips her head around and hushes us with a finger to her pursed lips.

"Shh!" she scolds, clearly annoyed.  "Some of us are actually trying to WATCH the movie!"
 
We look back at her, wide-eyed, both of us contrite.  
 
"Sorry," we mumble, soundly put in our places.  I don't know about you, but I'm strangely okay about playing second fiddle to Julie Andrews with my kid.  It could be so much worse, after all.  It could be Paris Hilton or--God forbid--Ann Coulter.  Even the thought of that makes me shudder with revulsion.
 
We settle back to watch the movie again, you reclaiming your perch on my shoulder...except this time you put your arm around me and, if possible, cuddle closer.  
 
I swallow and the sound is deafening to me.  I try to focus on the movie.  'Try' being the operative word.
 
It's the ridiculous laughing scene with Uncle Albert.  Great.
 
Emma starts first.  The infernal giggling.  Then--and somehow I'm not surprised--you start.  And it's just freakin' adorable, the two of you giggling and--and-- 
 
Then I start.  Me.  I don't giggle.  I.  Never.  Giggle. 
 
Oh God, I groan.  It is contagious!
 
My maiden voyage into Giggleland ends abruptly, however, the second you begin to play with my hair.
 
I think my exact words are "Erk."
 
You glance at me curiously for a second, then smile.  But you don't stop what you're doing.  That's the most important thing.  You don't stop.
 
I replay--for the trillionth time--what that woman at the Mount Rushmore gift shop said to me.
 
     "She adores you--that much is obvious."
 
I don't believe it, of course, but oh....  If you did.... 
 
We sit like that, you cuddled up next to me, playing with my hair, Emma snuggled between us, until you realize during the George-Banks-Goes-Loopy scene that Emma is actually fast asleep, her hand sitting in the popcorn bowl. 
 
"Put that on the floor.  I'll deal with it tomorrow," you tell me, indicating the bowl while searching the bed for the remote.  When you find it, you turn the TV off and now the only light in the room comes from the lamp on the bedside table. 
 
I do as you tell me to do and when I straighten up, I'm almost relieved to find that you've slid away from me to make room for Emma to lie down, arranging a pillow beneath her head and pulling the blankets up around her. 

Almost relieved. 

I also find that I miss the warmth of you next to me and I think even the ends of my hair are now craving the touch of your fingertips.

If you're trying to kill me, you're doing a bang up job of it.  Just thought I'd let you know.

You're looking at me thoughtfully from across the bed and I don't know what to say so I say "Thank you for--" without thinking.  I catch myself before I finish because it turns out I was going to say "Thank you for being the most beautiful person I've ever known." 

I think it's time to put my brain on a leash.  Or maybe a shock collar.  Do they make those? 

"For what?" you ask softly and your gaze is searching and electric at the same time. 

"For...for getting us here safely.  For ordering dinner.  For being able to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards.  I don't know."  I smile at you shyly and wonder if too much is showing in my eyes.

You smile back.  "Should I have put that on my resume?" you ask. 

I laugh.  "It certainly would have gotten my attention," I say.  "I just don't know what good that would have done back then."

"Because you didn't know me?"

I shake my head a little.  "No.  Because I was...different.  I wasn't...I wasn't a very good person then."  I think back to that other life--because that's what it feels like to me now.  Another life lived by another me.  A me who hungered all the time--for power, for prestige, for sex, for money.  But that other me was never satisfied, no matter how much she took, no matter how much she was given.  The hole in her middle was so big, so empty, nothing could fill it.  Until you came into my life....

You reach across Emma and take my hand in yours.  "Yes you were," you say simply.  "You were a good person then just like you're a good person now, Olivia.  You were just a little lost...."

Thank God you found me when you did, I think.  Thank God you found me at all. 

I harbor no illusions about this: without you, all that would be left of me now would be a headstone visited by my daughters twice a year.

I feel tears come into my eyes again and--desperate to hide them from you--I turn toward the bedside table.

"We should get some sleep," I say thickly and I pray you can't hear the tears in my voice.  I turn the lamp off, plunging us into that velvety darkness that seems to be found only in hotel rooms.  You're still holding my hand.

"Good night, Olivia," you whisper.  "Sweet dreams."

"You too," I say simply.  I think you'll release my hand now but you don't.  So I don't release yours.  The only problem with that?  I can feel your spirit like a current between us in the darkness, running through the closed circuit of our entwined fingers.  I'm surprised you can't see what it's doing to me.  Hell, I'm surprised you can't read by me.  My whole body feels lit up and sparkling.

It's gonna take me forever to fall asleep.

After five minutes of this, you sigh and pull your hand away.  Before I become despondent over the loss of that connection, though, you whisper, "Olivia?  Turn on the light, please."

Startled, I turn over and do so.  "You okay?" I ask worriedly, turning back--only to find you carefully navigating your way between Emma and me.  "What are you doing?"  Did I squeak when I said that? 

Goddammit.

"Getting comfortable," you mumble and you won't look at me.  Instead, you face away from me on your side, cuddling Emma. 

I stare at you, probably looking like a gaping fish, until you whisper, "You can turn the light off now."

I turn over and do so but when I turn back I suddenly don't know where to put my body, my hands.  I try really hard to relax but I can feel the heat of you not five inches away from me and I can feel the blood in my body react to it, to the temptation of your presence.  I realize that my right hand is still floating in mid-air because when the light went off, it reached for you as if it had done so for a hundred nights in a row and I only barely caught it.  Slowly, I risk putting it down--softly--on your shoulder.

And I leave it there because I don't know what else to do.

There's no way in hell I'll sleep tonight.  No fucking way.

You sigh again and I think Jesus Christ, WHAT NOW?

In the ruby blackness of the room, I feel your hand cover mine on your shoulder and you guide it downward until it rests on the curve of your hip.  Then you tug it--me--forward until I'm spooning you.  Until I'm spooning you.

Forget sleep.  There's no way in fucking hell I'm surviving the night.

When I'm arranged to your satisfaction, you sigh for the third time and it's a contented sound, the first I've heard since we started this...this...whatever it is.  Then you go to sleep. 

I lay there for what seems like hours until I'm sure that you are so deeply asleep that a tornado would be hard pressed to wake you.  Then I slip out from beneath the covers and stumble into the sitting area, finding the uncomfortable camel-colored couch by touch alone and curling up at one end of it.  Every inch of my body that was pressed along yours aches to return to you.  It's a physical pain and it makes me tremble--no, shake.  I'm going to shake apart.  I'm going to come crashing down. 

But no matter how much this hurts right now, it's a cakewalk compared to what I would feel like if I stayed curled up around you and accidentally did something to reveal how much I love you, how much I want you.  Seeing disgust or hatred for me in your eyes--it would kill me.  After Phillip taking Emma from me, it's my greatest fear.

It keeps me up nights, I think, rolling my eyes at myself.  Ah, gallows humor....  How refreshing!

So I stay on the couch...where you find me in the morning, winter light flooding the small sitting area via a window overlooking the interstate and beautiful downtown nowhere.  A carafe of coffee, a pitcher of orange juice and a tray of assorted pastries and muffins sit on the coffee table--the result of a 6am call to room service.  The smaller TV in here is on but I muted it to keep it from waking you and Emma.  It's too early for anything good to be on so I'm watching an infomercial that is trying to sell me a rotisserie machine. 

You look at the food on the table and then at the TV, your face closed, unreadable.  I have the feeling you're upset about something but you aren't saying anything or yelling at me so I don't know what to do.  I follow your gaze and see that the rotisserie people have just plated an entire turkey with all the trimmings.

"I can't tell you how many times I've almost called in and ordered 15 for The Beacon," I say, nodding toward the television.  "Even on mute, this pair makes a convincing argument for the convenience of rotisserie cooking."

I smile at you but you don't return it.

I can see it in your eyes then: fear.  Fear of what, though?  What happened?  Did I do something?
 
"Emma wants to try out the whirlpool tub so I told her she could take a bath this morning," you say, your voice flat, lifeless.  I frown and start to get up.
 
"Okay, that's...fine.  I'll--"
 
"No, I'll do it," you interrupt, holding a hand up to stop me.  "I just wanted you to know where we'd be."
 
I slowly sit back on the couch, confused.  "Are you sure?  Because I can--"
 
"I'm sure.  You stay here and...check on the weather.  I...I'd like to know if there's going to be more snow today."
 
Snow.  I'd forgotten all about the snow.  "Okay.  I can do that.  Natalia, I--"
 
"We'll be out in a little while, I promise."  Your words are rushed and quiet and then you disappear around the corner.  I hear your falsely chipper voice as you herd Emma into the bathroom and then the door clicks shut behind you both and I'm left with the faint sound of water running and the feeling that I'm just not smart enough to figure you out sometimes.  What the hell was that all about?
 
I shake my head and turn back to the TV, unmuting it and switching away from the still-playing infomercial on the latest in rotisserie technology.  How can they possibly fill ten minutes on this thing let alone an hour?  You stick meat on a set of prongs, insert it into the square thingy, set it and forget it!  How difficult is that to remember?
 
I press the channel button savagely--not knowing what is going on with you is bothering me more than I'd like to admit at the moment--until I find a local news station.  The bottled blonde anchorwoman smiles as she finishes a story on the latest stimulus package released earlier in the week by Obama.
 
"--and President Obama said yesterday that he is confident this stimulus package will be the first successful step toward repairing the country's ailing economy."
 
I grab my coffee mug off the table and say a silent prayer that Obama is right.  The economy is almost as fucked up as my personal life.  He needs all the help he can get.
 
"In other national news," continues the anchorwoman, "an Amber Alert has been released for eight-year-old Emma Spencer of Springfield, Ohio--"
 
My cup crashes to the coffee table and shatters, spraying me, the couch, and the floor with hot coffee.  I don't even notice.  You rush in from the bathroom, horrified.
 
"Oh my God, Olivia!  What happened?  Are you all right?" 
 
I can't say anything.  I just stare at the TV in front of me, watching my world fall apart on a 19-inch screen.  You follow my gaze and cover your mouth, dropping to the arm of the couch in a stunned heap.  There's a picture of us on the screen now.  The one from our living room, from New Year's Eve.
 
"--in the company of her mother, hotelier Olivia Spencer, at the Briarwood Resort where they went for weekend ski trip two weeks ago.  They have not been seen since.  Police are also interested in speaking with Spencer's assistant, Natalia Rivera, seen here in a photograph taken in the home they share.  She disappeared from Springfield three days ago under suspicious circumstances and Springfield police believe she is in contact with Spencer and her daughter if not actively involved in their disappearance.  They are calling this a case of custodial interference until more is known.  Spencer shares custody of her daughter with Phillip Spaulding, CEO of Spaulding Enterprises.  A friend of Spencer's--WSPR station owner Dinah Marler--released this emotional plea this morning."
 
The screen switches and there's Dinah, sitting behind one of the news desks down at the station.  She looks pale and pissed off.  I know this look.  She's been cornered.
 
"Olivia," she says, and angry tears fill my eyes.  How can she be doing this to us?  Cornered or not?  How can she do this??
 
"Olivia, please call me.  This isn't like you and I want to help.  I want you and Emma to come home.  We'll work this out.  I promise you, we will.  Whatever you're going through, I'll be right beside you.  We--your friends and family here in Springfield--just want you both back, safe and sound.  Please call.  I'll answer.  1-800-555-3662."  Her lower lip trembles for a split second and her eyes become glassy.  "I'm here, Ollie.  Call me.  1-800-555-3662."
 
The news show cuts away from Dinah's face and returns to their anchorwoman.  "Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Emma Spencer, Olivia Spencer, or Natalia Rivera is urged to contact their local police station rather than the number given by Ms. Marler.  Again, if you have seen Emma Spencer, Olivia Spencer, or Natalia Rivera, please contact your local police department.  Jim?"
 
The next image on the screen shows a building engulfed in flames and that's how I feel right now.  Incinerated.  Obliterated.  I....  I don't know what to do.
 
I feel...oddly calm but my vision blurs at the edges.  My sight begins to narrow slowly to a corner of a shelf in the entertainment center where the veneer has pulled away, revealing the cheap MDF board underneath.  There's a slow, deep thrumming sound in my head and it drowns everything else out.  I'm sinking into the drone of it, letting it carry me away.  Nothing else makes sense anymore.  Nothing. 

There's a crack in the veneer.  The edge of it is yellowed by cheap wood glue.  Someone tried to fix it once, a long time ago.  They didn't do a very good job.  Unacceptable.  Just unacceptable.

Sounds--like whales singing in the deep, dark sea--push through the droning hum in my head.  They don't make any sense.  Only the crack is clear.  The place where everything will fall apart.

The shock of your cold hands on my cheeks causes the world to rush back in at me all at once.  The glaring sunlight, the acrid smell of spilled coffee, the searing pain of a burn on my left hand, the desperation of your voice....

"Olivia?  Olivia??"  You've forced my head to turn, to look at you, and I do, finally.  You're frantic.  "Olivia, honey, please look at me!  Please!"

"I see you," I say but the words come out as a croak, as if I haven't spoken in months. 

"We've got to go.  We've got to check out of the hotel, Olivia.  Okay?  Can you help me with that?"  Your hands are still cupping my face and I close my eyes, wanting to stay here, just like this.  Forever. 

"Olivia!"  You shake me, your voice nearing panic, and my eyes fly open.  Need to fix that.  Need to help you.  Whatever you need.  I'll help you.

"Okay," I say, waiting for instructions.  "Okay."

"Okay," you repeat.  "Emma's still in her bath.  I'll go get her dressed and ready.  You get the bags packed, okay?  Can you do that, Olivia?  Olivia?  Talk to me!"

I nod.  "Yes, I can do that.  Bags.  I can get the bags."  I stand abruptly and shards of the broken mug clink and ping as they drop from my lap and bounce off the coffee table.

"Good.  Okay.  I'll get Emma.  I'll tell her...I'll tell her that we have to get ahead of a storm or something.  We have to get on the road early today because of the snow." 

I head toward the bedroom to start packing our bags when you grab me, stop me.  Your hands are like vice grips on my forearms.

"Olivia, listen to me," you plead.  "Listen to me.  I need you to be here with me now.  I need for you to be strong right now.  For Emma.  Do you understand?  We'll get through this, we will.  But Emma needs you right now."

The steely determination in your voice and the pain from where you're gripping me--as if by will alone you can hold me together--cut through the last of the shock and I take a deep breath as if surfacing from a long submergence in an icy lake. 

I feel it all come back then, in that moment.  Everything.  The terror, the rage, the confusion....  The love....  It's like a power surge, that love.  For Emma.  For you. 

I look at you with clear eyes, finally finding some steel of my own.

"Let's go," I say tersely.  You nod and release my arms, turning toward the bathroom to collect my daughter.

I catch your sleeve and turn you back for a moment, letting everything--the buzzing swirl of everything I'm feeling in this moment--show in my eyes.  Just for one second.  One second I refuse to regret. 

"Thank you," I whisper softly.  They are the most heartfelt words I've ever said.

Your cheeks darken a little and you nod before you look away.

-----
TBC



Comments are love!

DiNovia
 
 
 
runetraverse: Otalia OTPrunetraverse on April 17th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
OMG. OMG. OHMYGAWD!!!

This is incredible! Bar none, one of the best Otalia pieces, and you somehow keep getting better with every chapter! Is it sad that the minute Olivia mentioned the couch, I wanted to facepalm harder than watching some of this week's episodes? Natalia TOTALLY thinks Olivia didn't want to hold her - but then the look. *wants to yell* Remember the look, Nat! Ask her WHY she didn't want to touch you! Push it out of her!

Though how they're gonna get any snuggle time on the run with Jellybean in tow, I have no idea, but I bet you can manage it. *happy sigh* You've done something incredible with this, m'dear. Please, please keep it up!
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Wonderful Thingsseftiri on April 18th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
Don't worry, I can manage lots! ;)

I am so glad you enjoy this story so much and that it is able to evoke such reactions. I am so lucky to have such wonderful readers!

(Deleted comment)
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Wonderful Thingsseftiri on April 25th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
16 is up! ;) Glad you liked 15... Sorry for the late reply!
(Deleted comment)
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Wonderful Thingsseftiri on April 25th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
16 is up, dear! Sorry for the late reply. RL got in the way but I have sorta figured that all out now and I hope there won't be such a long wait for 17.

:D

Glad you liked this one!
(Deleted comment)
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Wonderful Thingsseftiri on April 25th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)
16 is up! ;)